News Digest — 6/20/23

Israel’s Population Expected To Rise To 15.6 Million By 2048, Increased Jewish Population

Israel’s Jewish population will number close to 12 million by the country’s 100th Birthday, according to a projection released by the Central Bureau of Statistics on Monday (19th).

The Jewish state’s total population numbered approximately 9,453,000 at the end of 2021 – the last year for which the report had complete data – including 7,456,000 people in the “Jews and others” category (representing 79% of the population) and approximately one million Arab Israelis (21%).

Of the nearly 7.5 million people included in the “Jews and others” category, 92.7% were Jewish, or just under 7 million people.  The remaining nearly half a million people in the “Jews and others” category were mostly non-Jewish immigrants who moved to Israel from Eastern Europe under the Law of Return after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Israel’s Jewish and Arab populations are both projected to continue to enjoy robust growth rates through 2065.

The natural growth rate of the Arab population is expected to fall slightly below that of the “Jews and others” group, with the Arab sector projected to grow by 57.7% by the year 2048 compared to 61.1% growth in the “Jews and others” category.

By 2048, the CBS report predicts, Israel’s population will have grown to 15.6 million, including more than 12 million people in the “Jews and others” category, with a disproportionate amount of the growth coming from the Jewish segment of the category.

Israel’s Arab population will decline slightly as a proportion of the total population in 2048, falling from 21.0% in 2021 to 20.8%.

As a result of declining birth rates, the Arab-Israeli population’s age structure will undergo a significant change, with far more middle-aged and elderly members and a proportionately smaller number of children and young adults.

While 31% of Arab-Israelis in 2021 were in the 0-14 age group, by 2065 that age group will make up just 22% of the Arab-Israeli sector’s population.  Arab-Israelis over 65, however, will go from 5% in 2021 to 17% by 2065.

The Jewish age structure will remain far more stable, with the percentage of elderly Jews rising from 14% to 15% by 2065, and the percentage under the age of 15 rising from 27% to 29%.

Arab Israelis will make up just 19.3% of Israel’s population by 2065, compared to 80.7% for the “Jews and others” category.

Israel’s Arab population in 2021 included Druze, who made up 7.4% of the Arab population, Christians (6.9%) and Muslims (85.5%)



Israel Inaugurates National Pavilion At Paris Air Show

Seventeen Israeli defense firms participated in the inauguration of the national pavilion at the 2023 Paris Air Show on Monday (19th).

The event follows a banner year for Israeli defense exports, which hit an all-time high of $12.5 billion in 2022.  Israeli defense exports have doubled in less than a decade and increased by 50% over the past three years.

The Israeli delegation is being led by Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and includes the ministry’s Director General Maj. Gen. (res.) Eval Zamir and other senior officials.

“Israel’s ability to face threats is determined by the dedicated individuals who tirelessly work to develop state-of-the-art technology.  This ongoing and highly challenging battle of intellect mostly takes place behind the scenes,”said Gallant on Monday (19th).

“Iran is closer than ever to gaining military-nuclear capabilities, and it is conducting a war of attrition against us by engaging in proxy terrorism.  This clear strategy aims to destabilize not only the region but also the world.  In response to Iran’s efforts, the Israeli defense establishment is working to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power, utilizing all the resources at our disposal,” he added.

The Israeli leaders will “engage in discussions and foster collaborations with global counterparts to further advance Israeli defense industries and strengthen official partnerships,” according to a government statement.

Held every two years, the world’s largest air and aerospace defense exhibition attracts a diverse range of exhibitors, official delegations, professionals and audiences.  Some 150,000 professionals and more than 2.500 defense industries are participating in this year’s event, showcasing cutting-edge technological solutions in the aerospace civilian and defense sectors.

“Defense industrial cooperation stands as a vital cornerstone of our strategic defense alliances with partners worldwide. Israel’s defense establishment and industries have long been at the forefront of pioneering defense technology and solutions, earning international  recognition and trust in our technological capabilities,” said Brig.Gen (res.) Yair Kulas, head of the Defense Ministry’s International Defense Cooperation Directorate (SIBAT).

“We are honored to participate in this esteemed exhibition and look forward to further fruitful collaborations with our counterparts,” Kulas added.

The Israeli companies will present a wide array of technological solutions at the national pavilion including air defense systems, unmanned aerial systems, radar and laser technologies, missile warning systems, and advanced command and control solutions.

The Israeli defense industries  participating are Aeronautics, Ashot Ashkelon Industries, Bet Shemesh Engines, Bird Aerosystems, Bluebird Aero Systems, Copterpix, Creomagic, CTI-INTL Solutions, Elbit Systems,  Enercon Technologies, Israel Aerospace Industries, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, Spear UAV, Steadicopter,  Thermal Beacon, Timer–A Government Owned Company Ltd. and UVision Air.

During his visit, Gallant is slated to meet counterparts from France, Italy, Hungary and Romania.

Earlier this week, he met with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in Brussels “to discuss opportunities to expand military cooperation to counter regional threats.”   



Visiting Wounded Soldiers, Netanyahu Hails Their ‘Impressive’ Conduct In Jenin Raid

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited soldiers wounded in the IDF’s Monday morning (19th) raid in Jenin as they recovered at Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center, taking the opportunity to hail their conduct during one of the most intense West Bank firefights in years between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen.

Five Palestinians were killed during the heavy clashes in the northern West Bank, during which an Israeli helicopter gunship carried out rare strikes, the first in the West Bank in some two decades, in order for eight wounded soldiers to be evacuated from the battle zone  after a vehicle was hit by an explosive device.  In a statement from Rambam, Netanyahu said Israel has in recent months “eliminated and arrested a record number of terrorists, and this was the case in the Jenin operation as well.”

Netanyahu told the media the wounded soldiers are “incredibly impressive” and “come from all walks of Israeli society.”  “We are striking terrorism with strength and determination,” he said.

One of the wounded soldiers recounted the firefight in a statement released by the Border Police.  “We came under heavy fire as explosives were hurled at us from multiple directions.  Together with all the forces on the ground, we managed to arrest several wanted suspects and strike a large number of terrorists,” said the combat medic, whose name was not released for publication.

“As soon as the force was hit by fire, I and another medic began to treat the fighters, and in a short time paramedics and other forces arrived.  We are determined to recover and return to our friends and to operational activity,” he added.

A Rambam spokesperson said that in addition to the eight soldiers, Daggo, a dog from the Oketz reconnaissance unit, was also wounded.  The canine was evacuated to the hospital along with the wounded soldiers via helicopter, when doctors noticed something was wrong with the dog shortly upon arrival.  Daggo was examined by veterinarians to determine the extent of his injuries which were believed to be internal.

The injuries suffered by the 8 soldiers ranged from moderate to minor.  Five of the wounded were being treated at Rambam, while the other three were being treated at Sheba Hospital outside of Tel Aviv.

The wounded soldiers were also visited by Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai who hailed their conduct in Jenin.  “You acted professionally, under great risk to yourselves during a complex operation to thwart terrorism,  I am proud of you and wish you a speedy recovery,” he said.

“We are in a challenging security reality…but all of the security agencies are sending a clear message, that we will reach every terrorist wherever they are,” he said before thanking the medical teams for treating the wounded.

In a brief joint statement earlier Monday (19th), the Israel Defense Forces and Border Police said forces entered the northern West Bank city in the early morning hours to detain two wanted Palestinians.

The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry reported that five people were killed and at least 90 were wounded amid clashes with Israeli troops in the city.

A local wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group claimed its members  had detonated the explosive devices near IDF vehicles and then targeted them with gunfire.

Since the beginning of the year, Palestinian attacks in Israel and the West Bank have killed 20 people and left several more seriously hurt.



Palestinian Terror Group Threatens Israel With New Attacks From The North

The Galilean Wolves, a Palestinian terror group based in Syria with ties to Iran and Hezbollah is actively preparing for a new series of attacks inside Israel.

Speaking from Syria, Fadi Malach, commander of the Galilean Wolves told the Tazpit Press Service, “We are in the midst of preparations for a series of additional operations inside Israel, despite Israel’s warning to Hezbollah who might go on another adventure.”

Malach also told TPS that his group was responsible for a roadside bombing at the Megiddo Junction in northern Israel which injured an Israeli motorist.  The man who planted the bomb was subsequently killed by Israeli soldiers while driving back toward the Lebanese border.  Explosives and a weapon were found in the vehicle and the terrorist reportedly wore a suicide bomb belt.

“We are responsible for the Megiddo operation and have been active since 2004 in an effort to bring about the liberation of the Galilee, in the first stage,” Malach said.   

On March 13, 2023, the organization took responsibility for Megiddo’s operation on Telegram channels in which texts and videos were combined under its name.  Malach did not offer any new evidence to TPS to support his claim.  Israel believes Hezbollah was responsible for the attack.

Malach claimed that unlike Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Galilean Wolves have not been co-opted by Iran.

“We are in contact with the Islamic Jihad and the “Popular Front” in Syria but we do not represent countries like Iran, but only Palestinian interests,” he insisted to TPS.  “The Palestinian Authority does not represent the Palestinian people – only the groups that work against Israel do.”

However, Arab reports indicate that the group is loyal to Syrian President Assad and has participated in numerous battles against Syrian rebels, and receives weapons and training from Iran and Hezbollah.  Members of “The Galilean Wolves” are said to be Palestinians from refugee camps in Syria.

The Galilean Wolves have been linked to attacks such as a shooting rampage at Jerusalem’s Merkaz Rav Kook Seminary in which eight students were killed and another 11 injured in 2008.

But some in Israel have expressed skepticism, suggesting that the Galilean Wolves are a fictitious organization assuming responsibility for attacks.  Others suggest the Wolves are a new iteration of the Free Sons of the Galilee, an Israeli Arab terror group that claimed responsibility for several attacks inside Israel between 2007-2009.



What The Arrow-3 Sale To Germany Says About Israel – Herb Keinon

Germany has announced plans to buy Israel’s Arrow-3 missile defense system.  When viewed within the context of recent history, this is outstanding.  Only three generations ago, Germany was responsible for the murder of more than one-third of the Jewish people.  Talk about a reversal of fortunes.

These sales are important to Israel because they strengthen bilateral ties.  If Israel is providing a country with weapons that keep it safe, that country will relate to Israel in a fundamentally different way.  This is only natural.  Countries, like people, relate to and treat those they need differently than those they do not.

A second reason these sales are so critical for Israel is that they make it possible for the country to pay for the research and development (R&D) to produce the weapons it needs for its own survival.  Amos Yaron, a former director-general of the Defense Ministry, said Israel needs to export 70% of the weapons and systems it manufactures to cover the R&D costs.

The net result is that Israel’s ability to give countries around the world things they need necessarily increases its utility to the world.